By Sarah Matlick, Jaden Gill and Erin Tooley (University of Oregon)
In July, a flock of 22 ducks showed up at the front doors of Hoffman Europe in London, causing a bit of a traffic jam on the sidewalk. These, of course, were not your ordinary ducks, but Oregon Ducks — students from the University of Oregon who are in London this summer to explore global communication practices, and who had arrived at Hoffman’s office accompanied by tutors Courtney Hunt Munther, Senior Instructor, Public Relations, and Autumn Shafer, Assistant Professor, to learn about the European team’s work.
As students on this trip, we were pretty excited about visiting Hoffman, and we had a range of questions going into the visit: How do you land a tech story in big publications? What makes an impactful story? How do we as students prepare for agency life? What does the job application process look like?
We had the pleasure of hearing from Hoffman Europe Managing Director Mark Pinsent, Hoffman UK Director Chris Owen and Account Director Andree Latibeaudiere, who organized a fantastic program that featured case studies from real client work, guidance for young professionals, and a real-world task for us to solve in teams.
Here are some key points we took away from the experience:
Sarah Matlick, rising senior studying PR at the University of Oregon: Leaving The Hoffman Agency office this past week, I felt excited, motivated and inspired. It’s easy as a senior in university to feel unsure, nervous or even scared about what the future holds, especially in an ever-changing industry such as public relations. However, The Hoffman Agency emphasized their independence from the beginning of their presentation, telling our group that it gives them the ability to do the right thing for their clients without worrying about costs or finances. At a young age, we are all taught to do what’s right and follow our gut instincts. It was a breath of fresh air to know that agencies, such as Hoffman, value those beliefs when it comes to working with clients on activities that everyone is confident in and proud of. I hope to continue to have opportunities in the future after I’ve graduated into this industry that allow me to continue to uphold my clients’ values and morals as well as my own.
Jaden Gill, soon-to-be account coordinator for Hoffman Portland: Out of all the things I learned at the Hoffman office, what will stick with me the most is the phrase “the story is always there.” The Hoffman team considers themselves “story hunters.” Pitching stories about technology in a way that makes audiences care is tricky, though. It requires a bit of thinking outside the box. Hoffman compares the art of the pitch to the process of mining: You start with raw materials but have to dig deep to bring that gem to the surface. Then you polish it to make it shine and grab people’s attention. Once you’ve found the story, the Hoffman team emphasizes the importance of showing the journalist respect by being sure to read their work before pitching to them.
The Hoffman team also helped me gain a better understanding of the term “client-centric.” Mark and Chris explained that the reason Hoffman has such strong relationships with their clients is because they aren’t afraid to take a stand when they know something is or isn’t going to work. Just as you’d tell your best friend when there’s food stuck in their teeth, the agency is dedicated to producing work that they know will succeed even if it comes with uncomfortable discussions.
Erin Tooley, rising senior studying PR at the University of Oregon: Leaving Hoffman, I felt refreshed. It felt refreshing to hear a different angle of PR work. The agency team explained that the work they do for their clients isn’t as much about what you are trying to sell but why it matters. They ask questions like: what impact is it going to have? And why does it matter to the tech industry? Their goal to humanize the brands and products they are selling will certainly stick with me as I work in the industry after I graduate.
We left the office with full bellies, new friends and a plethora of knowledge that we will carry with us as we embark on our own PR journeys. A massive thank you to the Hoffman Europe team for making our experience so insightful and nurturing.